Precisely Who Are Your Customers?

Why and how to define a target customer.

A lot of time and money can be wasted while trying to sell or market to customers who are not true targets (potential customers) for your product or service. Until you can accurately define your customer, you will continue to throw good money away. That can be a disaster for a small business that needs to watch dollars closely.

Take time to ask yourself some critical questions about your customer. Does the purchaser also use the product, or buy for someone else? Are there demographic skews by gender, age, location, income, etc? If you find clear trends (my customers are men between 25-50; income above $50,000; living in these three counties; etc.), you can target your messages and your time where there is a better chance of success. In other words,”fish where the fish are.”

If you are in business, you should have a good feel for your customers, but frequently review what you think you know. Slight adjustments may make you much more efficient. If you are beginning your business, take the best guess at whom you will sell to, but be quick to adjust as you gain sales experience.

Investing adequate time to determine your target customer is critical. Good news: much of the homework can be done at your public library or on the internet. A recent simple review of pet ownership, for instance, revealed number of households, by type of pet, how many per house, annual expenditure for food and health care, etc. So, if you are going to sell pet food or toys, you have a start toward estimating size of market. Intuition says you will be selling to pet owners and there are many ways to reach them.

If you have a retail outlet, you can tell who is buying by simple observation ("About 75 percent of my customers are female," etc.). If you have a package, you might include a bounce-back card offering a small gift or discount coupon if it's filled out and returned. Then you track responses. If you are selling on the internet, capture the addresses.

Business Tip of the Week: Don't overlook your current customers. It is cheaper to sell to them than to find new ones. (And here’s a bonus tip: Check out SCORE’s workshops on marketing, finding your niche!)

Remember, a targeted marketing program is your path to success, but first you must accurately define that target. 

            Carl Woodard

            SCORE OC Mentor

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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